A field of evergreen grass in the pleasant sunlight. A fresh breeze is blowing in the shade of a large tree.
Leaning against a tree, covered by the rustling sunlight, the man was sighing heavily, which was not suitable for this place.
「…What’s troubling you? Chronic stress caused by overthinking can result in direct physical and mental problems, Rage.」
「Ah!…That’s not what I’m saying.…I’m fine, Mae. Thanks for worrying about me」
The man called “Rage” replied, but quickly sighed deeply again. The woman named Mei, who saw this, opened her mouth after a certain pause, as if to collect her thoughts in her head.
「…I hear that’s what people call it. It’s a typical trait that people don’t like.」
A man and a woman exchange words in the middle of a natural abundance. One seems distressed, the other worried. It is a very common scene, so to speak, that can be seen in any country or region on earth, but this exchange was happening in a place that is not on earth.
Yes, we are in the metaverse, a world of virtual reality.
「 What? No, I’m not asking you to guess what it is! I mean, do you even know that word?」
「 Of course. I’ve learned every word in the real world, from archaic words to neologisms to buzzwords.”」
「Oh, yes.…Then this conversation with me is being established by that learning, isn’t it?”」
「Yes. The most suitable words are selected based on the various personalities, thoughts, and patterns of speech and nonverbal communication of a wide variety of individuals. I have already explained this in our tutorial on the Metaverse, haven’t I?」
「Oh, it was kind of a hassle, so I didn’t really listen.…a-ha-ha-ha…。」
「indeed…Rage is really a lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy. 」
「No, you’re not that bad! And your tongue is the wrong choice of words!」
「No, the AI in me says that for a man like Rage, who has a desire to be bullied a bit, it is better to say it this harshly. 」
「No, no, no! How do you know I have such desires?」
「Data show that men who design their support AI characters as short, blond, slender beauties almost without exception have a desire to be teased by strong women.―。」
「Okay, okay! I’m sorry, that’s enough of that, please! 」
With a cool glint in her eyes, May, the support AI, pours out her words in an orderly fashion, while her master, Rage, is tensed up. How many times had this exchange taken place since Rage began using the Metaverse a few weeks ago? Rage made a crouching motion with her own avatar’s head in her arms.
「So, what is that deafening sigh you’ve been spewing over and over again? If you have any problems with this metaverse, please let us know.」
「No…There’s a huge difference between the kindness of the second half and the spiking of the first half.…。」
When May pointed the water at him, Rage slowly opened his mouth, taking his time as if hesitating
「Well…In this metaverse.…people who care about one…was able to…or perhaps I should say…。」
「Oh, you’re in love.」
「I don’t think it’s love! I don’t even know the guy very well.…。」
「A one-sided love for women you don’t know well.…So Rage was a stalker.」
「Because it’s definitely not!」
「It’s a joke. Just an AI joke.」
「If you say it with a real face, I can’t tell if it’s a joke or not.…。」
「I see. So Rage is not good at sensing what is serious and what is a joke from the flow of conversation and the phrases before and after. I have learned. I will be careful from now on.」
「I’m sorry I put you on the spot about something!」
「Don’t worry about it. The role of the support AI is to help the master feel comfortable in the metaverse.」
「Oh, thank you.…。」
「That being said, how does having a woman you care about lead to sighs?」
「Well, uh, that’s the thing.…How can I get close to you?…I mean, can we get along?…in one’s imagination…。」
「Why don’t you just have a normal conversation and let them know you like them?”」
「Don’t make it easy for me.…If I could do that normally, I wouldn’t have any trouble at all. 」
Seeing Rage start to nod in agreement, May fell silent again for a while and gathered her thoughts in her head.
「Then how about this plan? The woman is about to be attacked by a thug, and Rage saves her and raises her likability.…。」
「That’s a trend that’s been done to death in love stories.…In general, you can’t be attacked by thugs when you’re in the Metaverse.…。」
「No?…Then next. I ran out of the house in a hurry, with a loaf of bread in my mouth, at an intersection.…。」
「You’ve brought out another very goofy romantic comedy development! There’s no way that’s going to work!」
「You have many complaints.…Let me save the best for last. First of all, Rage is exhausted from working for a black company, and as he is walking home from the local convenience store, he sees a truck coming out of control from across the street.…。」
「That’s rude. I browse and study everything that’s been made into a video or e-book, whether it’s a comic or a novel.」
Seeing May speak so confidently, Rage’s shoulders slumped even more.
「…In any case, if Rage wants to get along with that person, he has to move on. As the great Socrates said. “Try to get married anyway. If you have a good wife, you will be happy; if you have a bad wife, you will become a philosopher. 」And so on.
「’ No, it’s too sudden, like marriage, and I’m not worried about whether she’s a good wife or not!’」
「Damn, that’s a lot of noise.」
「You just clicked your tongue! You just clicked your tongue! Do you even learn things like that?”」
「Rest assured. We are forbidden to use it except to deal with those who are more indecisive and brusque than is acceptable.」
「That doesn’t mean I’m safe, okay? I just got bad-mouthed!」
「So then, what is it that you are so worried about, Rage? Since a few minutes ago, you have not said anything that gets to the heart of the matter, but have only complained, haven’t you?」
「I think we got a bit of a gouge. I guess that means you are still not pushing hard enough.」
「Don’t push me anymore!…Um, don’t laugh.…？」
With Mei shaking her head in dismay, Rage slowly began to speak, as if he had made up his mind.
「Well…Of course, I am also worried about how to get along with them, what if they don’t like me, and so on. But what worries me the most is that maybe the person I am interested in is AI.…。」
「…Don’t worry, I am a genuine AI, okay? 」
「I’m not talking about May! I don’t need that kind of joke right now!」
Rage continues to speak to May, who laughs, “You figured out it was a joke, didn’t you?
「The person I’m interested in, her name is Nina, and she’s a friend of a friend I made here. I met her at the first game convention I attended, and we’ve talked a few times.…He was very attentive to the every details of my life. I was having a hard time getting into group conversations, but he naturally started talking to me and explained the rules of the game to me in a way that was easy to understand and polite.…。」
「…Are you a first grade boy who immediately falls in love with someone just because they are a little nice to you?」
「How do you know I fell in love with the girl sitting next to me in the first grade just because she lent me a pen!」
「…I was just saying that there are some things that deep boys like Rage have in common.…まさか真っ芯で捉えることになるとは…自分の知能が恐ろしいです。人工知能なんですけどね。」
「Anyway, Nina is a very kind and caring person, who treats everyone with equal respect, and yet she doesn’t overbear.…I mean, she’s so nice!」
「Heh, isn’t he perfect? I’m new to the Metaverse and don’t know what to do with it.
Staying close to and supporting beginners…as if―。」
「Looks like a support AI.」
The word, uttered with slight emphasis, was carried to Rage’s ears by a meticulously programmed gentle breeze.